Flannery O'Connor

Freshman (College 1st year) ・English ・MLA ・2 Sources

Flannery O’Connor is arguably one of the most cited writers of the Southern Gothic whose works in the 1950s and 1960s have been subject to literary analyses. Among her best works is the 1955 short story A Good Man Is Hard to Find that describes the fate of a family under the hands of the Misfit who was an escaped convict. The author describes the book in an emotional manner and focuses on how the grandmother ended up being a constant nuisance in the family trip to Florida. Considering the author’s background, it is affirmed that the themes of death, religion, and the setting of Florida were influenced by the fact she was a Christian from Florida and has experienced family loss.

The primary theme that is notable when the reader explores the story A Good Man Is Hard to Find is death. The premonition death is highlighted from the very start in the beginning sections of the book when the grandmother tells Bailey and the rest of the members that the Misfit was on the loose. Many other instances across the plot illustrate the impotence of the theme of death especially when the vehicle the family was traveling in rolled but fortunately, no one is killed yet. However, upon meeting the Misfit when they were expecting to be assisted after their car wrecked, the whole family’s fate is defined as the grandmother identified the Misfit and leads the criminal to order for their killing. The Misfit says, “I found out the crime don't matter. You can do one thing or you can do another, kill a man or take a tire off his car, because sooner or later you're going to forget what it was you done and just be punished for it” (Connor 34). The statement indicates that the Misfit was a bad person who was ready to forget his actions even if it meant to kill even though he was aware that he could get punished for the criminal offense. The theme of death as the author describe is based on the fact that she had lost her father when she was sixteen (Alexander 329). It thus indicates that the life she lived having experienced the death of a family member compelled her to describe it in the book for the ready to feel what it meant to lose a family after her father died of systemic lupus.

Another central theme in the book that defined the author’s life is the element of Florida. The author narrows her choice for the city the characters depart for in the book to Florida after a confrontation where Bailey disagreed with her mother about the preferred destination for the journey. The author takes on Bailey’s stand for Florida and backs it up by demonstrating that it was the favored terminus by June Star and the other kids. The author states, “The grandmother didn't want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey's mind” (Connor 33). Thus, from the start, it is apparent that the focus was on Florida and nowhere else. A quick recap of this shows that O’Connor raced her past in Florida as she enrolled at Georgia State College for Women when she was seventeen. It follows that the setting of the play was from the fact that the author had spent her time at Florida, a place she even began her writing profession.

Finally, it is important to relate the theme of religion that the grandmother praises to the fact that the author was a Christian. The theme of religion becomes most relevant when the grandmother meets the Misfit and tries to plead with him by drawing on religious statement and Christianity beliefs on forgiveness. In his response, the Misfit says, “I was a gospel singer for a while. I been most everything. Been in the arm service both land and sea, at home and abroad, been twist married, been an undertaker, been with the railroads, plowed Mother Earth, been in a tornado, seen a man burnt alive” (Connor 109). The Misfit was responding the grandmother plea that he had the opportunity to reconcile with God and ask for forgiveness because he still had the opportunity of being a better man. However, the Misfit was opposed to the idea and replied that he is aware of the gospel as he was once a member. The focus by the author on this theme is guided by the fact that she was a Catholic and was thus expressing the Christianity doctrines in many of her works (Curley 37).

In summary, it is worth noting that the author’s focus in the writing of the book A Good Man is Hard to Find is largely influenced by her bibliography and origin. The three themes that feature in the short story include the subject of religion that was defined by the author being a Christian, living in Florida and creating a similar setting, and the fact that losing a family member led her to focus the story on the Bailey’s family’s death. Overall, therefore it is summed that the thematic position of the short story was guided by the author’s life.

Works Cited

Alexander, Benjamin B. "Flannery O’Connor: Looking in from the Outside by Brad Gooch." The Chesterton Review, vol. 39, no. 3, 2013, pp. 329-337.

Curley, Edwin. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." American Philosophical Association Centennial Series, 2013, pp. 37-55.

O'Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1953.

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